SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN has an article on exploding the self-esteem myth. Bottom line: “Boosting people’s sense of self-worth has become a national preoccupation. Yet surprisingly, research shows that such efforts are of little value in fostering academic progress or preventing undesirable behavior.” This isn’t a big surprise. The Insta-Wife has noted for years that inflated self-esteem is often associated with negative behavior among teenagers, while teens with low self-esteem often behave well. (Here’s a chapter from her book that discusses some of those issues.)
UPDATE: Contrary view here.